A pilot program from the Governor’s Regional Solutions office with up to $1 million in grant funding could be an important source of funding for the city’s Weaver Building project, John Day City Manager Nick Green told the city council Jan. 23.
According to information submitted to the office by local governments and businesses across Oregon, workforce housing shortages are constraining economic growth and job creation in many of the state’s communities.
Green recommended that the city apply for a $181,252 site-readiness grant under the new Workforce Housing Initiative. Under the program, workforce housing is defined as homes owned or rented by Oregonians with incomes between 60 percent and 120 percent of the area’s median income, which in John Day this fiscal year is between $30,600 and $61,200.
The council unanimously approved submitting an application for the grant and using the funds for architectural planning, interior demolition and debris removal and asbestos abatement at the Weaver Building.
“If the city applies for and receives the grant, we will have sufficient funding to do site readiness and will not have to include these costs in a future loan for the building renovation,” Green said.
The city has already spent $121,486 to acquire the Weaver Building at 131 W. Main St. and inspect it for lead and asbestos, Green said. Of that amount, $89,282 has been reimbursed through grants, with the rest to be reimbursed upon submission of the project’s final report, he said.
Drawings for the eight residential units on the second floor as they exist now have been drafted by Strux Engineering of Prairie City. Changes in the layout are needed to address ingress and egress regulations, Green said.
When asked what would happen if the city decided to sell the building after it was fixed up, Green said he’d like to see that happen, but he wasn’t sure how it would work out after using government grants or loans.
The council also agreed to move forward to a higher level of participation in the tiered Oregon Main Street program. The Exploring Downtown level requires more commitments but provides greater grant opportunities, Green said.
Green said he would talk with the Grant County Chamber of Commerce and generate more ideas about Main Street revitalization through 2018 before applying to move to the higher level. The city’s 2010 downtown master plan might need to be updated to make it more coherent, he said.
In other city council news:
• The council met in executive session to discuss real property transactions.
• The John Day Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, to review two sign permit requests and an eight-unit subdivision request.
• The council will hold its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, with a public hearing on requests for proposals for the greenhouse project.
• The city council will meet again on Feb. 27, with a presentation of the annual public safety report.
• Green will present a state of the city address at the March 13 city council meeting. The council agreed to hold all the meetings in the John Day Fire Hall.
For more information about asbestos, visit maacenter.org.